Ariane L. Peralta

Title: Assistant Professor
Area of Study: Microbial Ecology, Wetland Restoration, Agroecology
Phone: 252-328-2712
Fax: 252-328-4178
Website: Peralta Lab at ECU
Office: S301B Howell Science Complex
Address: Department of Biology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858


Ph.D.: Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011

M.S.: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006

B.S.: Honors Biology and Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003

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Research Interests:

Humans have manipulated ecosystems to keep pace with demands for clean water, food, fiber and fuel. Land use history can have lasting impacts on contemporary ecosystems, especially on microorganisms involved in regulating ecosystem services. Research in the Peralta Lab seeks to understand how land use change influences microbial community structure and function. Land use history can positively or negatively influence ecosystem services, and the strength and outcome of these legacy effects may be variable due to the persistence of microorganisms from previous land management. Our ability to manage microbial functions is especially important for enhancing water quality, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and crop production. Our research bridges microbiology, biogeochemistry, community and soil ecology and the applied disciplines of restoration ecology and agroecology. Research in the Peralta Lab explores the following questions:

  • How does past land use impact contemporary microbial community composition and function? 
  • How can current management practices enhance microbial ecosystem services? 
  • What are social-ecological barriers to managing microbial ecosystem services?

Current Research Projects

Impacts of Agricultural Legacy Effects on Wetland Restoration:We are investigating how wetland restoration strategies differ in their ability to overcome legacy effects due agricultural management. We use a combination of field and lab work to examine the influence of wetland management intensity on plant and microbial community composition and function (e.g., carbon sequestration).

Harnessing Microbial Ecosystems Services Through Diversifying Human-Dominated Landscapes:Our research is aimed at enhancing sustainable food production and restoration of microbially mediated ecosystem services by using a social-ecological framework to understand how human decisions and consequent biophysical changes associated with land management influence microbial ecosystem services.

Plant-Soil-Microbial Interactions:We are investigating how land use legacies influence soil microbial seed banks and contemporary specialty crop production. We use a combination of field surveys and laboratory experiments to test microbially mediated mechanisms contributing to plant health as a consequence of land use history.

Microbial Contributions to Agroecosystems:Microbial activity controls the rate of soil organic matter decomposition. Our research examines how land use management influences soil microbial communities to support carbon sequestration.


Peralta, A.L., E.R. Johnston, J.W. Matthews, and A.D. Kent (2016) Abiotic correlates of microbial community structure and nitrogen cycling functions vary within wetlands. Freshwater Science. 35(2):573–588

Peralta, A.L., D. Stuart, A.D. Kent, and J.T. Lennon (2014) A social-ecological framework for ‘micromanaging’ microbial services. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 12(9):524–531. *featured on cover

Peralta, A.L., S. Ludmer, J.W. Matthews, and A.D. Kent (2014) Bacterial community response to changes in soil redox potential along a moisture gradient in restored wetlands. Ecological Engineering 73:246-253.

Peralta, A.L., J.W. Matthews, and A.D. Kent (2014) Habitat specialization along a wetland moisture gradient differs between ammonia oxidizing and denitrifying microorganisms. Microbial Ecology. 68:339-350.Peralta, A.L., S. Ludmer, and A.D. Kent (2013) Hydrologic history influences wetland microbial structure and function under experimental drying/flooding regimes. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 66:29-37.

Peralta, A.L., J.W. Matthews, D.N. Flanagan, and A.D. Kent (2012) Environmental factors at dissimilar spatial scales influence plant and microbial communities in restored wetlands. Wetlands 32:1125-1134.

Peralta, A.L., J.W. Matthews, and A.D. Kent (2010) Microbial community structure and denitrification in a wetland mitigation bank. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76:4207-4215.

Matthews, J. W., A.L. Peralta, P. Baldwin, A. Soni, A.D. Kent, and A.G. Endress (2009) Local and landscape correlates of non-native species invasion in restored wetlands. Ecography 32:1031-1039.

Matthews, J. W., A.L. Peralta, D.N. Flanagan, P. Baldwin, A. Soni, A.D. Kent, and A.G. Endress (2009) Relative influence of landscape versus local factors on plant community assembly in restored wetlands. Ecological Applications 19:2108-2123.

Peralta, A.L. and M.M. Wander (2008) Soil organic matter dynamics under soybean exposed to elevated [CO2]. Plant and Soil 303:69-81.

Courses Taught:


Microbial Ecology